President Joe Biden joined civil rights leaders, congress members, and Black Americans from across the country in Selma, Alabama early this month to mark 58th anniversary of Bloody Sunday. The annual pilgrimage commemorates the events of March 7, 1965, when civil rights demonstrators attempting to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge from Selma to Montgomery were met by police officers and white counter demonstrators who attacked them as they marched for voting rights. Civil rights legends including Rev. Jesse Jackson, Martin Luther King III, and Rev. Al Sharpton, joined congress members including Rep. Jim Clyburn and Rep. Maxine Waters, and many other people who traveled to Selma to commemorate the event..
Biden decried attacks on voting rights from conservative Supreme Court justices and state legislatures and renewed his call for strengthening voting rights with the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, named for the late congressman who, at age 25, was among those attacked on Black Sunday. Lewis was then chairman of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and helped plan the march, which spurred the passing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
“The right to vote — the right to vote and to have your vote counted is the threshold of democracy and liberty,” said Biden.“With it, anything is possible. Without it — without it nothing is possible. And this fundamental right remains under assault.”
“We must remain vigilant,” he said.
Brenda Knight, co-founder of Ladies in Red, a San Franciso Bay Area organization that travels around the country with seniors to learn about African American history, told the Oakland Post the weekend included a Foot Soldiers Breakfast honoring those who marched on Blood Sunday, an awards ceremony, a film screening, and educational panels.
Knight said, “If it wasn’t for the foot soldiers, we wouldn’t have rights. If our children understood how many people died for their rights, they would vote more. If our kids know the history, they would stop taking our voting rights for granted.”
Knight said commemorating anniversaries like Bloody Sunday was even more important considering recent book bans and attempts to ban African American history in schools. “Our history is American history,” she said. “We have to do what we need to do to make sure our history is told. Because they’re taking the books. We can’t stop talking.”
This Black Press USA article originally appeared in the Oakland Post
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